Wall Street Journal: U.S. Congress Passes Global Magnitsky Act Sanctions

The Wall Street Journal
By Samuel Rubenfeld

Dec 8, 2016 2:52 pm ET

■ Legislation applying sanctions on human rights abusers and corrupt officials across the globe was passed by Congress as part of an annual defense-authorization bill, sending it to the White House to be signed into law.

The Capitol Building as seen in Washington on Thursday.
Photo: Associated Press

The sanctions bill, proposed last year by Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.), is named for Sergei Magnitsky, a tax lawyer for Hermitage Capital Management who died at the hands of Russian authorities after exposing a tax refund fraud scheme. The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act was later added to the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the Senate on Thursday. The House passed its version of the authorization bill last week. The Senate vote sends the authorization bill to the White House.

The original Magnitsky law, which targets Russian human-rights abusers, including those allegedly involved in his death, was signed in 2012. The global Magnitsky provision authorizes visa bans and a block on the U.S. assets of government officials anywhere in the world found violating human rights, committing—or assisting in—“significant” corruption, making graft by a foreign official punishable by U.S. sanctions.

“The U.S. has added a critical tool to our diplomatic toolbox, making clear that gross violators of human rights and those who engage in serious acts of corruption cannot escape the consequences of their actions even when their home country fails to act,” said Mr. Cardin, in a statement.

Write to Samuel Rubenfeld at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @srubenfeld.

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